Excavations up to 2000

1923/4 Excavation


Extensive excavations led by Sussex archaeologist S.E. Winbolt in 1923–4 succeeded in exposing the foundations of a large Roman villa complex. The uncovered Roman Villa became a popular tourist attraction and many postcards and photographs survive from this period showing visitors enjoying the site. A toilet was built, along with a tea room - the concrete foundations and a tea cup from this were discovered in our 2015 season!


winbolt and team.jpg
1924 plan.jpg

Up until the Second World War the site enjoyed considerable popularity with tourists. In 1940 the Villa was occupied by the army who dug slit trenches and weapon pits across the site, causing some damage to the archaeology which was picked up in the A Town Unearthed excavation. 

The villa remained uncovered but sorely neglected until the mid-1950s when the council decided that it was too expensive to upkeep. Holiday makers were taking advantage of cheaper travel costs and heading to sunnier climates away from the British Isles so there was no longer an income to maintain the monument. As a result the Villa was reburied in 1957 and almost entirely forgotten about


Aerial photograph of the Villa
Aerial photograph of the Villa

One of the first ever aerial photographs of an archaeological site was taken of the Villa at east Wear Bay.

Excavation of Folkestone Roman Villa
Excavation of Folkestone Roman Villa

The uncovered Roman Villa being visited in the late 1920s by holiday makers to Folkestone. It was one of the biggest archaeological tourist attractions in the country.

The Villa in 1948
The Villa in 1948

After the war the decline in tourists and the poor condition of the site led to the council closing the site in 195... The Villa and immediate area were covered with a thick layer of ash from a nearby incinerator.

1989 Apse with Philip.jpg

1989 Excavation

In this year the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit excavated part of the Villa. A key reason for doing this was to investigate the level of erosion since 1924.


The excavation found that a considerable amount of the site had been lost, and that Winbolt's excavation had only removed the upper deposits within and immediately adjacent to the Villa, leaving considerable intact stratigraphy. This included earlier Iron Age features which had been missed during the 1924 excavation. 


The Bath House identified by Winbolt at the end of Block B of the Villa. Unfortunately by 1989 most of the structure had been lost, and today the edge of the cliff is too close to safely excavate it.